George Gordon, Lord Byron
In the spring of 1813, he published, anonymously, his poem on waltzing; and as it was not received with the applause he anticipated, did not avow himself to be its author. In the same year, appeared The Giaour, and The Bride of Abydos; the former of which reached a fifth edition in four months. Mr. Murray offered him a thousand guineas for the copyright of the two poems, but he still refused to derive any pecuniary benefit from his writings. In 1814, his Corsair was published; the copyright of which he presented to Mr. Dallas. Fourteen thousand copies of the poem were sold in one day; but the popularity which this and his other works had procured for him, began to be lessened by his verses to the Princess Charlotte, and by a certain peculiarity of conduct which was looked upon as more indecorous than eccentric. Under these circumstances, he was persuaded to marry, and, in consequence, proposed to Miss Milbanke, the daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke but was at first met with a polite refusal. He was however, not so much mortified as not to make her a second offer, though he says, in his memoranda, that a friend strongly advised him against doing so; observing that Miss Milbanke had, at present, no fortune, and that his embarrassed affairs would not allow him to marry without one; that she was, moreover, a learned lady, which would not at all suit him.' He then agreed that his friend should write a proposal for him to another lady, and a refusal being the consequence, he said, 'you see, after all, Miss Milbanke is to be the person: I will write to her: which he accordingly did, and was accepted. His marriage took place at Seaham, on the 2d of January, 1815; a day to which he seems to have always reverted with a shudder, and on which he, in reality, perhaps, experienced those emotions so touchingly described in his beautiful poem of The Dream. Superstition had, no doubt, some influence over his mind on the occasion; for, in addition to the circumstances hereafter related in his own words, he fancied, a short time previous to his marriage, that he had seen, at Newstead, the ghost of the monk which was supposed to haunt the abbey, and to appear when misfortune impended over the mansion, - a legend which he was versified in the sixteenth canto of Don Juan. His own memoranda relative to his union form an interesting prelude to its unhappy consequences. 'It had been predicted by Mrs. Williams,' says he 'that twenty seven was to be the dangerous age for me. The fortune-telling which was right: it was destined to prove so. I shall never forget the 2d of January. Lady Byron was the only unconcerned person present Lady Noel, her mother, cried: I trembled like a leaf, made the wrong responses, and after the ceremony called her Miss Milbanke. The re is a singular history attached to the ring: - the very day the match was concluded, a ring of my mother's that had been lost, was dug up by the gardener at Newstead. I thought it was sent on purpose for the wedding; but my mother's marriage had not been a fortunate one, and this ring was doomed to be the seal of an unhappier union still. After the ordeal was over, we set off for a country seat of Sir Ralph's; and I was surprised at the arrangements for the journey, and somewhat out of humor to find a lady's maid stuck between me and my bride. It was rather too early to assume the husband, so I was forced to submit; but it was not with a very good grace. I have been accused of saying, on getting into the carriage, that I had married Lady Byron out of spite, and because she had refused me twice. Though I was, for a moment, vexed at the prophecy, or whatever you may choose to call it, if I had made so uncavalier, not to say brutal, a speech, I am convinced Lady Byron would instantly have left the carriage to me and the maid. She had spirit enough to have done so, and would properly have resented the insult. Our honeymoon was not all sunshine; it had its clouds; and Hobhouse has some letters which would serve to explain the rise and fall in the barometer; but it was never down at zero.'